Matthew Power on the Mississippi

Matthew Power, a  journalist and travel writer, died this week in Uganda, apparently from heatstroke, while reporting on an attempt by Levison Wood, a British explorer, to walk the length of the Nile. Power, who was only 39, had made something of a specialism of covering eccentric expeditions for American publications including Harper’s Magazine and Men’s Journal. In one of his best pieces, written for Harper’s, he describes joining a bunch of drop-outs and “dumpster divers” intent on rafting the length of the Mississippi, all the way from Minneapolis to New Orleans. In Huckleberry Finn, the raft supplies the only space where Huck and Jim can be friends; on Power’s trip, “The Circle of Death”, as he and the rest of the crew come to call their craft, serves pretty well the opposite purpose…

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